For this review, we have the Acoustibuds ear bud headphone adapters. If you’ve ever purchased a smartphone, an mp3 player, a handheld gaming device, or any other number of electronics, you’ve probably got a set (or three) of ear buds laying around somewhere. Personally, I’ve never been able to use the things because they are both uncomfortable to wear and don’t sound all that great to boot. While browsing for a new set of headphones to check out, I came across these things, and for just ten bucks, I had to give them a shot. Follow the link to get the scoop on these interesting accessories.
Acoustibuds are basically an attachment that you put on an existing set of earbuds that transforms them into in-ear, sealed headphones. Because I’ve yet to put in a set of earbuds that weren’t the equivalent of sticking coarse bricks in my ears, I was curious to see how these turned out.
The Acoustibuds I purchased from Amazon came with three sets in a box – small, medium and large. The sizes refer to the length and width of the ear canal piece that hangs off the end of the slip that goes over your ear buds. Installing the Acoustibuds was a breeze. All you do is slide it over the top of your ear buds, being sure to not cover up the bass ports (the tiny holes along the upper ridge of your ear buds). So needless to say, installation is a breeze.
So do they work? This is a tough question to answer. Yes, they do what they were intended to do, mostly. First, I had to use the largest size that came in my three pack because all the sets of earbuds I own are so large. The extra length provided by the large size was needed to create that seal needed. Once in, there was a drastic difference in the sound quality, and not quite what I was expecting.
I tried the Acoustibuds with a set of earbuds that came with my iPhone 3Gs, and the set of earbuds that came with my Sony PSP. In both cases, installing the Acoustibuds made the bass come out of nowhere, and overpower everything. When you think about it, this really makes sense. One of the things I’ve noticed about earbuds in general is they tend to amplify the bass because when they’re sitting in your ears with no seal, you wouldn’t hear any bass if it weren’t for the bump in that frequency range. So when you create a seal with the earbuds in, you get an insane thump, and not really one that’s all that pleasing. It’s also worth mentioning that covering up the bass ports does have an impact on the sound. Covering the bass ports will reduce the volume of the bass a little, which seems like a good idea considering how overpowering it is with the Acoustibuds installed, but, it also had a tendency to make it muddy and flat. The midrange suffered in another way. Generally speaking, I like the midrange on both sets of the earbuds without the Acoustibuds installed. They tended to sound natural and full, even though I couldn’t keep them in for more than five minutes without experiencing severe discomfort. After installing the Acoustibuds, the midrange received that same amplification effect that happened with the bass, and it was immediately apparent that they had boosted the lower ends of the mids in order to get those out into your open ear as well. So the mids went from pleasing to so low end heavy that they didn’t sound natural and pleasing but rather cool and bassy. The highs weren’t too bad as they didn’t feel like they were over-amplified, or if they were, I couldn’t tell because the bass and midrange were so overpowering. So to answer the question up above, yes, they did what they were designed to do which is to create a seal so you get more of the sound coming out of your earbuds, but do they sound good, that would completely depend on the earbuds being tested and there’s NO WAY to know without trying them.
Sad to say, but I cannot recommend these accessories, not by any fault of their own because they do what they were designed to do. However, in many cases you won’t be improving the sound quality coming from your earbuds, rather, you’ll just be exposing the engineering workarounds necessary to bring full sound into an unsealed space in your inner ear in the form of overblown bass and unnatural vocals and midrange. Rather than investing in an existing set of earbuds to make them more tolerable, I would invest in a set of in-ear headphones. I would check out our in ear monitor buying guide. There are headphones out there cheaper than the Acoustibuds that provide incredible sound quality for an insanely low price if budget is your concern.